SA determined to stay bird flu free

first_img21 October 2005South Africa is internationally recognised as being free from avian influenza and has strict measures in place to maintain that status, the Department of Agriculture said in a statement on Friday following the recent outbreak of bird flu in Thailand.According to the department, South Africa monitors international developments closely and imports live poultry only from countries that have been avian influenza free for the preceding six months.If there is any uncertainty, the country is regarded as infected until proven otherwise.Departmental spokesperson Steve Galane said all imported live birds were tested at origin, quarantined and retested in South Africa.Importation of poultry meat was only allowed from approved processing establishments, he added. Other poultry products such as feathers were only allowed to be imported if treated to inactivate the virus.Other species suspected of being susceptible to avian influenza, such as cats and pigs, are also tested upon importat, although they are regarded as unlikely to pose any risk.The department says it has an extensive surveillance programme in place for all domestic ostriches, commercial and non-commercial chickens to ensure that any possible introduction of the virus into the country is detected without delay.Migrating shore birds are now also monitored to determine if they carry any avian influenza viruses.The Department of Agriculture has a comprehensive contingency plan in place, coordinated with the Department of Health, to deal with any outbreak should it occur, Galane said.Strict bio-security measures are in place on all chicken farms and there is meat inspection at abattoirs to ensure that only healthy chickens are slaughtered for human consumption.South Africa declared itself free from avian influenza on 13 September 2005, a move accepted by the European Union and the International Animal Health Organisation in Paris.This followed an extensive culling operation in which a total of 26 454 ostriches were destroyed as a result of an outbreak of H5N2 notifiable avian influenza in the Eastern Cape in 2004.A countrywide survey was conducted to determine the extent of the outbreak, with a number of positive ostrich farms detected in the Western Cape, although no sick ostriches were seen. Controlled slaughter was carried out in this case.No chickens, either commercial or non-commercial, have ever tested positive for avian influenza in South Africa.Another countrywide survey of domesticated ostriches and commercial and non-commercial chickens, carried out earlier this year, found that there was no bird flu circulating in the country.This made South Africa one of few countries in the world to have successfully contained an outbreak of the virus, Galane said.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

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Virgin Australia’s Velocity promises exclusive access to concerts and events

first_imgHow many frequent flyer points would you sacrifice for a backstage meeting with your favourite superstar?It’s a question Velocity Frequent Flyer executives appear to be pondering as they look at options for their latest partnership with TEG Live, the company behind Australian event ticket seller Ticketek.Country rock superstar Keith Urban yesterday became the first major act to be part of a push by Velocity to connect its 6 million plus members with the entertainment industry. Premium tickets to Urban’s concerts in December are among the first available and he also gave an intimate concert at the launch in which he explained and played tracks from his new album, RipCORD.Velocity Live aims to give the one in four Australians who now belong the program to access to VIP offerings such as premium seating, pre-sale ticket allocations and backstage packages with the added bonus of earning frequent flyer points.Velocity chief executive Karl Schuster also yesterday did not rule out allowing people to use their points to pay for concerts. “Watch this space,’’ he said.The Velocity move is part of a push by loyalty programs to expand their offerings to members and make themselves an increasing part of their everyday lives.Velocity already allows members using BP service stations to buy petrol using their points and operates a portal where frequent flyers can use what has essentially become another currency to buy merchandise. Other “out of the box’’ concepts include giving members parental leave so they can maintain their status, family points pooling and awarding points for pets who fly.While still smaller than its opposition, Velocity has grown strongly and Schuster says there is plenty of room for more growth. “Aussies are really unique in the world, they’re a bit like Canadians, in they really love their loyalty programs,’’ he said.  “So we want to enrich the proposition and give people more earn opportunities, give people more burn opportunities.’’Schuster acknowledged most people still want to redeem their points for flights, an area in which Velocity has won awards for seat availability and which it still sees as crucial.“So that is really an important part of our deal and having being part of the Virgin Australia family, that’s again foremost in our minds,’’ he said.  “So we are always thinking about those things for our members. It’s what they care about, it’s where the rubber hits the road.’’But Velocity is also seeing members using their points in other ways and Schuster believes the technology will facilitate this trend.“The ease and frictionless nature of how you can use digital to engage in the program is becoming more and more a reality and we want a big part of that,’’ he said.On the live performance and event partnership, Schuster said entertainment was deeply entrenched in the Virgin family’s DNA and was were the brand was born with founder Richard Branson’s record label.He said the move was about “putting the heart back into loyalty’’ and would be available to all members regardless of their Velocity status. Velocity was working with TEG on select events across Australia throughout the year, with plans to add sporting events.“The intention is that Velocity Live will become the place to go to get exclusive money-can’t-buy experiences and the hub will be continually updated with exciting new events, entertainment experiences and offers for our members,’’ he said.Urban said he loved the fact the program would offer access to people who would not otherwise get it.“For me the live experience isn’t just playing live,’’ he said. “We also do a thing backstage in a lot of our concerts right now which is sort of the show before the show — not just a basic meet-and -greet but really getting to spend time with people and do a mini concert backstage.’’last_img read more

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